Film Society of Lincoln Center's 2013 New York African Film Festival Set for April
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by BWW News Desk
The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FCLC) and African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF) have teamed up once again for the 20th New York African Film Festival (NYAFF) April 3-9, presented under the banner theme LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD: 20 YEARS OF THE NEW YORK AFRICAN FILM FESTIVAL. This year's lineup will pay homage to master Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène and the first generation of African filmmakers, while passing the baton to a new generation of African visual storytellers, who continue to transform our understanding of, and vision for, the Continent. The NYAFF will also run throughout April and May at Columbia University's Institute of African Studies, Maysles Cinema Institute and the Brooklyn Academy Of Music's BAMcinématek.
Film Society of Lincoln Center Director of Programming, Year-Round, Robert Koehler says, "This year's lineup for the New York African Film Festival will offer a wonderful opportunity to revisit and celebrate the work of the great Ousmane Sembène, while highlighting some of the truly distinctive and entertaining films coming our way from Africa, many of which are discussing and dealing with the issues of The Day in a very provocative way."
"We are enormously proud of the Festival's history and eagerly anticipate honoring those who made the first twenty years so special, while introducing audiences to new filmmakers who continue to make African cinema distinctive and important as we also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sub-Saharan African cinema," said AFF Executive Director and NYAAFF Founder Mahen Bonetti.
Special events and highlights include the opening night screening of Guelwaar, which opened the very first NYAFF twenty years ago and marks its triumphant return to open this year's festival. Ousmane Sembène's powerful and politically charged film from the early 1990s set in contemporary Africa cemented his reputation as the Father of African Cinema and at the forefront of expressive post-colonial African filmmaking. The screening is preceded by a reception at 6:00 pm. (Tickets are $50; to attend, please call AFF at 212-352-1720.) Also screening during the festival is Ousmane Sembène All At Once, a U.S. premiere; the film gives a rare, behind-the-screen look into the Senegalese filmmaker's seldom examined personal and family life. Closing the festival will be the classic road trip dramedy TGV, with a conversation with its award-winning Senegalese director Moussa Touré.
Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean-Louis (who had a recurring role on the popular NBC series Heroes and supporting roles in Derailed and Monster-in-Law) will make an appearance at the festival in honor of his starring role in the historical two-part drama Toussaint Louverture, a film about the remarkable leader of the slave revolts which lead to Haiti's independence from the French. Also, the youngest-ever Best Actress Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis stars in the New York premiere of the short film Boneshaker, a tale of a Ghanaian immigrant family on a road trip to a Pentecostal church in Louisiana to cure its problem child.
In addition to Toussaint Louverture and Ousmane Sembène All at Once, the U.S. premiere of the documentary Dolce Vita Africana offers another stirring portrait of a real life figure - internationally-renowned Malian photographer Malick Sidibe. The film depicts the life and work of the man whose iconic black-and-white images from the late 1950s through 1970s captured the carefree spirit of his generation asserting their freedom after independence.
The festival provides audiences with insight into the future of African film by spotlighting the filmmakers making waves on the Continent today. Hot new directors Lonesome Solo and David Tosh Gitonga bring a gritty and realistic view of street life in Africa's urban areas to their respective tales Burn It Up Djassa and Nairobi Half Life. Faouizi Bensaïdi's crime drama, Death for Sale, follows three friends as they embark upon a jewelry heist in a Moroccan port city to escape a hopeless future.
Some of Africa's biggest social issues are also tackled and highlighted in thought-provoking, controversial films. Land Rush and Fueling Poverty, to be screened jointly in their U.S. premieres, explore the sharp rise in foreign investors buying up African land and the failings of fuel subsidy management in Nigeria, respectively. Veteran filmmaker Licinio Azevedo draws on the stories of women who endured the Mozambican "re-education camps" in the 1970s for the New York premiere of Virgin Margarida, which premiered recently at the Toronto International Film Festival.
AFF will commemorate its long history of bringing the best of African film to New York audiences with the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the New York African Film Festival on Friday, April 5. The benefit gala will be held at the Macaulay Honors College directly following the 7:30 p.m. New York premiere of the special surprise screening 20th anniversary celebratory film, which will be presented by its director at the Walter Reade Theater. To purchase tickets, which are $150 and include entry to the film, call AFF at 212.352.1720.
From April 2 to 25, the Roy Furman Gallery will host EVERYDAY AFRICA, an art show that spotlights images of contemporary African life taken by smartphones from various photographers. The project is spearheaded and created by photographer Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill.
All screenings will take place in the Walter Reade Theater on 165 West 65th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam). Tickets for New York African Film Festival screenings go on sale March 7, 2013 at the Film Society's box offices and online at www.FilmLinc.com. Single screening tickets are $13; $9 for students and seniors (62+); and $8 for Film Society members. Plus, save when you purchase tickets to three films or more with a special discount package. A three film package is $30; $24 for students and seniors (62+); and $21 for Film Society members. Visit www.FilmLinc.com for complete film festival information.
The festival continues at Columbia University's Institute of African Studies on Thursday, April 18 for a daylong, free scholarly public program, then heads to the Maysles Cinema Institute in Harlem May 2 to 5. NYAFF closes over Memorial Day Weekend May 24 to 27 at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music BAMcinématek-part of the dance and music festival DanceAfrica. For details, visit African Film Festival online at www.africanfilmny.org.